Kip's CORNER: INSIDE BEARCAT HOOP (Season Finale)

Last Week
Coach Gordie James’ team wrapped up the 2004-2005 season with a 2-1 week on the road. Willamette, behind 17 points and 22 rebounds from Todd Lewis (and an additional 20 points and 14 rebounds from Jason Luchterhand) defeated PLU, 90-83 Tuesday night. Behind another 19 points and 8 rebounds from Lewis. WU defeated Whitman College in Walla Walla, WA Friday night, only to drop a gut-wrenching 87-84 overtime loss to rival Whitworth College in Spokane, WA on Saturday night. WU placed 5 players in double figures, led by John Olinger’s 24 points Saturday, with Lewis and fellow senior Harold Sublett, Jr. combining for 28 points and 17 rebounds. Willamette finishes the season 11-14, 8-8, good for 5th place in the NWC.

WHAT WENT RIGHT IN 2004-2005
WU’s backcourt of CJ Stuvland and John Olinger turned in stellar seasons, as Stuvland finished with a 15 ppg average (including 50% shooting from the 3-pt. line) and Olinger exploded for 6 20+ point games in his last 8 outings (and ranked among the league leaders in assists, steals, and assist to turnover ratio).

Post Todd Lewis turned into a double-double machine, leading the NWC in conference rebounding (9 per game) and averaging 12.6 points per outing.

WU won the NWC rebounding title, averaging more than 6 rebounds more per game than their opponent.

WU swept NWC runner-up George Fox, as well as long standing rival Lewis and Clark College.

WU earned a hard fought upset of Southern Oregon, a team currently vying for the NAIA National title.

Coach Gordie James earned his 300th career college victory in an early January rout of Pacific Lutheran University.

Reserves Drew Miller (4 games leading the team in scoring), Michael Plank (double figures in 5 games), Jason Luchterhand (20 points, 14 rebounds against PLU) and Jacob Baran all stepped into playing opportunities and performed exceptionally well.

Freshman Ian Mansfield dealt with the ups and downs of his initial year in the program, culminating in a 12 point, 5 rebound game against Whitman Friday night.

AREAS TO IMPROVE IN 2005-2006
WU lost senior Co-Captain Harold Sublett, Jr. for virtually the entire season. Sublett, who endured a long list of ailments, was healthy in an early 15 point, 11 rebound December game against Western Baptist, and was not at 100% again until his final 14 point, 7 rebound effort in his career finale against Whitworth.

Promising sophomore Point Guard Josh Erickson was lost for the season due to a knee injury. Erickson is on schedule to be back in 2005-2006.

Willamette was inconsistent in its shooting in 04-05, including a low 34.1% from behind the 3-point arc.

WU’s free throw shooting was erratic, especially at the end of games.

Willamette was swept by conference champion UPS, as well as rivals Linfield and Whitworth.

The Bearcats lost 6 games at home during the season. They had lost 2 combined the previous 3 seasons.

WU was just 1-3 in overtime games.

OPTIMISM IN 2005-2006
While WU loses seniors Lewis and Sublett, it does return starters Stuvland, Olinger, and Brennan Garrelts. In addition, Erickson should return, along with key contributors Plank, Miller, Mansfield, Baran, and Luchterhand. Henry Greeley, who enjoyed some early season success, will also be back for his senior campaign, along with a promising class of incoming freshman.

WU will return to a normal NWC schedule, avoiding the numerous Tuesday night games, and 10 days off breaks it suffered this season.

The Bearcats will again play a daunting preseason schedule, one that will no doubt prepare them for the rigors of another year in the always tough Northwest Conference.

INSIDE BEARCAT HOOP will post once a month until the start of next season, complete with off-season updates, 05-06 schedule notices, a peek at some incoming new faces on the team, as well as a look at former Bearcats and “Where are they Now?”

GO BEARCATS!